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Disruptive Technologies

I believe a major technological innovation that will have significant consequences for global society is driverless cars. Once autonomous cars become the norm for personal transportation, how people move about and interact with one another will change entirely. I hypothesize that there will no longer be widespread ownership of personal vehicles and instead will be a subscription-esque service where a user will order a car to a destination and, once dropped off, the car will leave. As these programs become more popular, cities will need less space for parking lots and parking spaces which will open up more space for pedestrians or development. An increase in driverless cars will also increase urban sprawl because it will make longer commutes more tolerable and people will be attracted to lower housing costs outside of cities. An article entitled, “Our Driverless Future” from CNN Money reflects this sentiment and states, “Autonomous vehicles are expected to significantly decrease transportation cost [sic]. With these lower costs people will be motivated to move farther from urban cores, attracted by lower housing costs.” It is also predicted that, as driverless cars increase, there will be a decrease in the total amount of cars on the road because there will be an uptick in carpooling, as drivers will share a car with one another to their destinations. Driverless cars offer cities and communities the opportunity to decrease their dependency on oil as well as their CO2 emissions, creating an overall positive effect on the environment and the health of communities. On the other hand, these changes could cause countries like Saudi Arabia, whose main source of income is oil exports, to experience heavy downturns in their economy. Additionally, since one of the leading testers of commercial driverless cars is Tesla, a company known for their electric cars, oil-dependent economies might be hit even harder if more driverless cars are also electric cars. Despite the possible negative effects for those specific economies, I believe that driverless cars will have a positive effect on society because they will decrease carbon emissions, improve the environment, and make transportation more efficient.

Keaton Paradeses

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